Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why we Write

So, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Erica Procopio and I am a member of Sylvanopolis Writers' Society (the previous post was by our esteemed leader, Drea Moore). I write fantasy and am currently working on a novel.

In October I attended the World Fantasy Convention along with Drea Moore, Meslissa Kuhl, Roy Garcia and Erin Lachuli. It was a fantastic experience, and wonderful time was had by all and we even got to geek out over Patricia McKillip (one of my favorite authors). It was essentially a series of panels on various and sundry topics interspersed with interviews and readings by different authors.
As I said it was an absolutely fantastic experience. And I got so much out of it (not least the tote bag full of books!) but I was very struck by something I heard an author say during the Non-Conciliatory Fiction panel.
David Drake is a well established, well known SF author who sat on the Panel. He believes that his experience in the Vietnam War made him a writer. He was in law school, well on his way to being a lawyer, when he was drafted. He said, of his writing after the war: "[I wrote...] not because I had something to write about but because I had to write to keep myself between the ditches."
Obviously, everyone has a reason why they write: boredom, therapy, sheer escapism.
My own reason is incredibly mundane. It was Winter Break, I had read all my books at least five times and no one would take me to the Library. At twelve, I could hardly drive myself. So, irritated and eminently defiant, I decided I would write my own book.
My first story was about a fairy who did not know she was a fairy. It featured a talking wolf named Fleetpaw and the heroine's best friend was named Stephanie which was, coincidentally enough, the name of my best friend.
That was the start of my foray into the world of the written word: ordinary and rather inauspicious. But, I realized, that was not the beginning of my story telling. When I was young I used to have very bad dreams, as many children do. I began to tell myself stories before I went to sleep so, if I dreamed, it would be a nice dream.
I never stopped. The only difference was one day I decided to write it down instead.

So, why do we write? And, more, why do we keep writing?

What is that imperative that drives us? I know that there are as many reasons as there are writers but I wonder if there is not some common thread. I wonder if we are all trying to escape, or trying to make sense of the world, or trying to come to terms with ourselves or trying to find god. Because it seems to me that we are all trying for something, whether we mean to or not.
But maybe I'm just projecting.
Why do you write? Why do you keep writing?


drea moore said...

My reason for starting to write was similar to yours. I think that the "reason" always traces back to "Why did I start writing?"--because once a person starts, there is no stopping. Being a writer is not always a choice, but a state of mind. The only choice we have in the matter, i think, is whether one chooses to listen to the characters and ideas crowding in or not.

I opt to listen. Everything after that is hard work. But I keep writing to be true to the voices-- the characters. As if they'd let me stop :D There are times when I was in school where I was so busy with courses and relationship and family drama that I wrote less. The characters became even more insistant. They wouldn't let me stop thinking, worldbuil;ding, piecing things together. Suddenly I was zoning out in classes and charting fictive grammar on the sides of my notepaper. I can't stop. It won't let me :D

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